Gates claims company as neutral in format wars

HOLLYWOOD — Microsoft and Toshiba will work even more closely together on high-def and interactive next-generation DVD formats, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates announced Monday in Tokyo.

Gates stopped short of saying anything specific, including making a commitment to using Toshiba’s HD DVD format in the next generation Xbox vidgame player. That would be a huge asset in Toshiba’s fight against Sony’s proposed high-def DVD format called Blu-ray, which will be used in PlayStation 3.

Although Microsoft is a member of the HD DVD group, Gates said the company remains in a neutral position relative to the format war.

Rather, the announcement appears to be more of a public vote of confidence for HD DVD, since Microsoft has already been developing interactive components for HD DVD under a cross-licensing agreement signed in April by the two companies to promote the exchange of innovations developed by each company.

The two companies agreed to “investigate development” of HD DVD players using Microsoft’s Windows CE technology and to strengthen their collaboration on the DVD Forum’s interactive format called iHD.

“Microsoft values our strong relationship with Toshiba … This agreement demonstrates our desire to share our innovations with other companies in ways that promote the spread of new ideas — and benefit customers by accelerating the development of exciting new products,” Gates said.

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